A group of forty-four dancers from Cuba defected en masse rather than return to Cuba and face a life of oppression and menial labor. The dance troop
overcame myriad obstacles to gain the right to form and come to the United States and Castro, who disapproved of the group, had promised to disband
the troupe upon their return to Cuba.
First they beat bureaucratic hurdles to become one of the largest Cuban productions to perform in the United States in half a century.
Then, on Monday, 44 performers of the Havana Night Club ensemble again made history when they announced one of the largest mass defections from
Fearing their group would be disbanded if they returned to Cuba, the musicians, dancers and singers submitted their paperwork for political asylum at
the federal courthouse in Las Vegas.
Three cast members will return to Cuba. Seven others, who are now in Germany, were granted U.S. asylum Monday, said Pamela Falk, a City University of
New York professor who is advising the group on immigration issues.
Group members gradually entered the United States months ago and performed to rave reviews in Las Vegas. The show will open tonight for the first time
with the full ensemble at the Stardust Resort and Casino for a 12-week engagement.
Falk described the performers as "teary and exuberant" on Monday.
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While many around the world decry the United States and many of our own citizens insist that our freedom is eroding, people by the millions risk
arrest and even death to live in America.
The most recent episode is this mass defection by a Cuban dance troop who overcame many barriers to come to the United States.
We should take the time to appreciate the blessing we enjoy as Americans, even when we feel things are not going our way.
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[edit on 17-11-2004 by Banshee]